By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
STEVENSVILLE — When Martin’s Super Markets first launched its online grocery shopping and pickup service a couple of months ago, the Stevensville store was not included.
However, on Nov. 11 the store at 5637 Cleveland Ave. began offering Groceries to Go to customers at no added cost.
The process allows customers to shop for items by name or category, while selecting a day and time for pickup after choosing a participating location. Over time the system will remember what the customer continues to shop for by collecting a shopping history, Kaplan said.
“When you build the shopping list, you do so by choosing something like bananas and you can comment on the item by saying ‘I want them green’ or ‘I want them yellow,’” said Cindy Kaplan, media marketing manager for Martin’s. The shopping coordinator can also text or email the customer while searching for items. “I personally did it as a test and asked for a coconut creme pie. But when it wasn’t available, the shopping coordinator texted me and offered me something else.”
Kaplan said Martin’s chose only to introduce it to a few stores in September as a way to ensure everything operated correctly – from a physical and software standpoint.
Kaplan said the Stevensville location was chosen to introduce the online service in Berrien County because it is a situated between the St. Joseph and Niles stores.
“We launched the program at (the Stevensville) location on Veterans Day. It was a soft opening so we could monitor a moderate amount of activity,” Kaplan said. “To this point it has been a success. This gives at least one store in the four largest counties we operate in, the choice of grocery pickup.”
While it hasn’t been decided whether the St. Joseph and Niles stores will offer the online grocery option, Kaplan said they will be monitoring everything closely.
The program was previously available only at the chain’s stores in Granger and Elkhart, in Indiana. In addition to Stevensville, the service is also now offered in Warsaw, Ind.
To use the at-home grocery method, residents can visit www.martinsgroceriestogo.com or download the Martin’s Groceries to Go mobile app.
Pharmacy prescriptions, alcohol and tobacco are not available for online ordering, Kaplan said.
After the personal information is submitted for payment, customers receive an email confirmation once their order is received, and when the order has been completed by store “shopping coordinators.” Kaplan said customers can use the Martin’s Advantage Card online, where they’ll continue to earn points by doing so.
When a customer stops to pick up an order, they can park in designated Groceries to Go parking spaces and then text or call the pickup number on the signs. A shopping coordinator will then bring the groceries out and load them up.
“(The shopping coordinators) are careful about checking for quality and expiration dates,” Kaplan said. “They receive the orders in the form of a grocery list, which the system organizes by aisle. We have noticed there is a high degree of repeat customers who use it. Repeated use is a very positive sign as we see it.”
Other online options
Rachel Bernard, manager at Roger’s Foodland in Royalton Township, said the store is working on a program to expand its current delivery option.
The expanded delivery program, which will include a charge, is expected to start sometime in December. Bernard said Roger’s has used a delivery service for more than 20 years that allows senior citizens to call in on Wednesday and have groceries delivered on Thursday. The new service would open the delivery option up to five days a week – and to more than just senior citizens.
Bernard said they were approached by a company last spring with the idea of taking delivery orders online. She said they think it is good idea, especially since Martin’s announced it would be launching the pickup service.
“It will be done online, only it will be next-day delivery,” Bernard said. “Right now we do it for seniors. I think it’s a great thing to have available. If there’s someone with a newborn who can’t exactly leave for an hour, I totally get that.”
Meijer introduced a grocery pickup service called Meijer Curbside to a handful of stores on the east side of Michigan this summer. The company said it plans to expand the service to several more locations in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois by the end of the year. So far, the Meijer stores in Benton Harbor and Stevensville do not offer pickup service.
Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer, also is working on online grocery pickup and delivery services. At present those services have not been expanded to Southwest Michigan,
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 22, 2016)